Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Albuquerque puts WTR Acura first in interrupted FP3

Albuquerque lapped the 3.56-mile, 12-corner course in 1:34.947s to gain a 0.4-second advantage over the fastest competitor. That award went to Michelin Endurance Championship driver Mike Conway, whose Action Express Racing entry was the first Cadillac DPi-VR to break Acura’s dominance at the top of the times this weekend.

The Meyer Shank Racing Acura, in the hands of Helio Castroneves, who won this race last year with WTR, was third fastest ahead of Sebastien Bourdais in the faster of the two Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillacs and Mike Rockenfeller in the second AXR Caddy. IndyCar race winner Marcus Ericsson in the new #02 Ganassi entry finished sixth ahead of JDC Miller MotorSport’s latest addition, Richard Westbrook.

But Westbrook’s best performance was marginally slower than the fastest LMP2 car, the Tower Motorsport Oreca, which was pedaled by Ferdinand Habsburg-Lothringen and set a lap of 1’36.710s. Fabio Scherer was second in the High Class Racing field, while Nicolas Lapierre and Jonathan Bomarito were half a tenth apart in the two PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports entries, followed by IndyCar ace Pato O’Ward in the DragonSpeed ​​entry.

Seb Priaulx, a debutant in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, topped the LMP3 entrants in the Sean Creech Motorsport Ligier, while Ugo de Wilde was second in the Muehlner Motorsports Duqueine and former Indy Lights champion Gabby Chaves relegated Andretti Autosport to third .

Dirk Muller led GTD Pro in the Proton Mercedes AMG GT3 despite being two tenths off the fastest time set by David Pittard in the Northwest AMR Aston Martin Vantage. Next was Alessio Picariello in the Proton-powered WeatherTech Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R, followed by Denis Olsen in the similar KCMG car, Ben Barnicoat in the Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F and Rolf Ineichen’s TR3 Racing Lamborghini Huracan.

In GTD, Pittard was a quarter of a second ahead of Giacomo Altoe’s Lamborghini (TR3), Klaus Bachler’s GMG Racing Porsche, Andy Lally’s Magnus Racing Aston Martin and Paul Holton in the Crucial Motorsports McLaren 720S.

Two of the red flags were caused by Gradient Racing’s Acura NSX, the first time when it stalled at the pit exit and the second time about 20 minutes later when it stalled more abruptly in an accident. The driver was unhurt, but the damage was so severe that the car never emerged from the paddock.

The other two reds were stops for the Forty7 Motorsports and Performance Tech Motorsports LMP3 cars.

Qualification for Sunday’s qualifying race for next week’s Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona begins at 3:25 p.m. ET, while evening practice begins at 7:00 p.m. ET.

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